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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER               41

understanding other qualities are derived, such as pacifism,
contentment, calm and strength of endurance which distinguish
the Chinese character. Strength of character is really strength
of the mind, according to the Gonfucianists. When a man has
cultivated these virtues through mental discipline, we say he
has developed his character.

Very often these virtues are attained also through the help
of Confucian fatalism. For contrary to the general belief,
fatalism is a great source of peace and contentment. A
beautiful and talented girl may rebel against an unsuitable
marriage, but if the peculiar circumstances of her meeting
with her fiancú can convince her that it is the gods who have
decreed the match, she can at once, through an act of under-
standing, become a happy and contented wife. For the
husband has in her eyes become a "predestined enemy," and
the Chinese proverb says "predestined enemies will always
meet in a narrow alleyway." With that understanding, they
can love and fight each other furiously ever after, knowing all
the time that the gods are looking on and causing them all
this trouble.

If we review the Chinese race and try to picture their
national characteristics,, we shall probably find the following
traits of character: (i) sanity, (2) simplicity, (3) love of nature,
(4) patience, (5) indifference, (6) old roguery, (7) fecundity,
(8) industry, (9) frugality, (10) love of family life, (u) pacifism,
(12) contentment, (13) humour, (14) conservatism, and (15)
sensuality. They are, on the whole, simple great qualities
that would adorn any nation.1 Some of these characteristics
are vices rather than virtues, and others are neutral qualities;
they are the weakness as well as the strength of the Chinese
nation. Too much mental sanity often clips imagination of
its wings and deprives the race of its moments of blissful mad-
ness; pacifism can become a vice of cowardice; patience,
again, may bring about a morbid tolerance of evil; conservatism

11 have not put down honesty, because all over the world farming people axe
honest, and the reputation of the Chinese merchant for honesty is only a con-
comitant of his provincial method of doing business, and a mere result of the
predominance of the rural pattern and ideal of life. When Chinese are put in a
seaport, they lose to a marked extent that pristine honesty and can be as
dishonest as any Wall Street stock-jobber.